Saturday, March 1, 2014


Angelina Jolie and Louis Zamperini

The phrase "coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous" has been attributed to many people, and I surmise the reason is that people like to quote things that resonate.  Things that strike a chord.  Supposedly its genesis was Albert Einstein, so I'm going with the belief that he may have been the first.  It lends some gravity to it.  I think in an earlier blog I may have said that coincidence is God's way of getting our attention.  Many people say that there's no such thing as coincidence.  I think I've said it.  I get it.  But, better said would be that coincidence is a convenient way to convey what we can't see, what lurks behind the curtain.  The invisible cords and cables and connectors.  The God-works so to speak.

But even that's confusing.

There is a recent story about Angelina Jolie and Louis Zamparini that I find, for lack of a better word, satisfying.  I also find great comfort in it for it is yet another example of the interconnectedness of everything and everyone.  The six degrees of separation theory has been around awhile.  The following is extracted from the People magazine website.

"I can show you my roof from the window," Jolie, who is directing the film, told Tom Brokaw from Zamperini's home during a Today show interview that aired Tuesday. "I imagine that for the last 10-something years, he's been sitting there having a coffee in the morning and wondering, 'Who's going to make this movie?' And I've been sitting in my room laying there thinking, 'What am I supposed to be doing with my life? I want to do something important … Where is it?' And it was right outside my window." 

For those of you who haven't read "Unbroken," in a nutshell, Zamparini was a former Olympic runner who entered WWII, was shot down, survived seven weeks on a raft in the Pacific, only to be taken prisoner by the Japanese, requiring him to endure months of sadistic punishment.  He was rescued, but in ways, his attempt to return to life in the States was as much of a challenge as his wartime experiences.  It is a fascinating and compelling book written by Laura Hillenbrand.  Now Jolie is making a movie.

And it's not the book or the making of the movie that I find most exhilarating.  It's the fact that two souls sat within eyesight, within shouting distance,  of one another awaiting the inevitable - yes, I said inevitable - connection that would keep their worlds spinning in a most satisfying way.  Zamperini has received all, or more, of the recognition that he ever dreamed possible.  His story lay dormant for decades before Hillenbrand decided to research it and write it.  Angelina Jolie could have stopped doing absolutely anything creative or challenging years ago and still have made an indelible mark on this globe.  Any of them, including Hillebrand, could have declared they were "done."

But we're never done.  Coincidence comes flashing into and out of our lives like electrons around the nucleus of an atom.  Woe be to those of us who fail to notice coincidence.  How unsatisfying it would have to be to go through life without at some point in time looking back and seeing how intricate the woven fabric of our existence is.  How random points connect and disperse and connect again.  How many people have been in sight or shouting distance of you during your life?  How many did you connect with?  And do you dare to wonder how many you ignored, either intentionally or accidentally?  And perhaps, in the end, that's what a coincidence is.  An intentional accident.  Or an accidental intention.

It doesn't matter to me.  I've had a fitful love affair with coincidence most of my conscious life.  And I continue to look forward to the next tryst.

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